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A Film Diary

+ high-res version

Watched: 4 October

Where to begin with this? There are times when Ang Lee’s anti-war drama has Things To Say about PTSD sufferers, specifically with regard to American soldiers who served in Iraq, and you could argue that it makes these points clearly enough. Just as effective are the satirical jabs at the exploitation of the same men by those seeking to make financial and political gains (and in that sense it’s a bit like a less-po-faced Flags Of Our Fathers). Yet there are other times in which Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk Tries To Say Things about the bonds that soldiers form with each other, and the effect that their service abroad has on their families, but it’s all packed into this scattershot, jumpy, all-over-the-place movie: one minute you’re watching Kristen Stewart (Kathryn Lynn, Billy’s older sister) and Joe Alwyn (Billy Lynn, heroic army specialist whose attempts to save his superior’s life during battle are caught on camera before going viral) seriously discuss a life-threatening injury and contemplating the physical and emotional distance that exists between them, the next you’re watching comic actors like Steve Martin (football team owner) and Chris Tucker (showbiz manager) as they usher Lynn and other members of his squad into tiresome meet-and-greets and a bizarre half-time NFL match appearance on stage with Destiny’s Child. There’s even a brief, sweet love story, but it’s a short film’s worth at best. I suppose it’s a nice surprise to be presented with a war film that has been made by a director who clearly wanted to do something different to the norm, but as with David Michôd’s War Machine the results in practice are mixed as everything ends up fighting for space. Oh, and I watched the DVD release on a fairly old TV, so the ridiculously high frame rate Lee used wasn’t an issue. (**)

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